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These Twin Cities women use faith and relationships to tackle the mental health challenges of growing older

MINNEAPOLIS— This May, WCCO is partnering with NAMI Minnesota to spread the important message that mental health is important and that there is hope when you are struggling.

Many older adults use faith as a healing method. WCCO’s Adam Duxter introduces us to two women who make this possible.

Before their interview with WCCO at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Susanna Bertelsen and Renee Kumpula had not met. But you wouldn’t guess it.

Susanna Bertelsen and Renée Kumpula


“We have more connections than we know,” Kumpula said. “We have taught for the same university system, we have both been faith-based nurses.”

It only makes sense that these two women are part of the fight against loneliness, separation and isolation that are impacting the aging adults around them.

“Those have been part of the aging experience for decades,” Kumpula said.

“Developing those relationships is very important as we get older,” says Bertelsen. “There are so many life changes as we get older.”

It’s personal for Bertelstein, after years of caring for a brother diagnosed with depression and schizophrenia.

“I would take whatever resources I could to help my family and to help myself cope, to advocate for my brother,” Bertelsen said.

Today, these two are no strangers to the church.

“Mental health stigma affects older adults’ ability to have conversations,” Kumpula said.

Their faith-based nursing provides support and community.

“I see that as a relationship. Relation with each otherA relationship in a broader community where your values ​​and beliefs are similar, the same and compatible,” says Bertelsen.

With decades of experience healing the body, these two say this is the first step to healing the mind.

“Walking with mental illness with someone you love is not an independent walk, you have to do it reach others‘, says Bertelsen.

If you or someone you know could use someone to talk to about their mental health, you can call 988 day or night to talk confidentially to a real person trained to help.

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